Interviews & Articles

(April 9, 2016)

"G-7 to take lead in tackling global agenda”

April 13, 2016

On April 10-11 with the participation of Group of Seven colleagues, the G-7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held in my hometown of Hiroshima.

It has been just more than three months since I took over as Chair of the G-7. Yet, it is clear the world faces challenges that require urgent attention. Terrorist attacks, such as the tragedy in Brussels, are occurring across the world. The refugee crisis is becoming more acute. North Korea is conducting a nuclear test and launching missiles. I believe that the G-7, with its shared fundamental values and commitment to maintaining the international order, should take the lead in addressing these urgent global challenges. As Chair, I hope to hold candid discussions with my counterparts when we meet in Hiroshima this weekend.

Attention will be given to the pressing issues of terrorism, violent extremism and refugee crisis that demand international response. Terrorism and violent extremism in the Middle East have been intensifying and spreading into Europe and Asia. Japan resolutely condemns acts of terrorism, which take the lives of innocent citizens and pose a serious threat to the universal values of peace and prosperity.

We need to tackle the underlying causes of both terrorism and the refugee crisis in the medium to long term in order to build a tolerant and stable society, resilient against violent extremism.

I am confident that the G-7 will play a major role here. The G-7 countries can together implement countermeasures that leverage their respective strengths and complement each other to generate synergy. Japan in particular will draw on its strengths to make an effective and comprehensive contribution by combining short-term humanitarian support with mid- to long-term development cooperation.

As the first G-7 meeting in Asia in eight years, we will discuss the issues of Asia, notably North Korea and maritime security, to chart out unwavering response as the G-7. Attempts to change the status quo through force, evident in such areas as the South China Sea, are challenges to the international order based on the rule of law, concerning not just Asia but also the international community as a whole. I hope we can develop a message based on the shared view among the G-7 members on the importance of ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight, refraining from unilateral actions, and maintaining the stability of sea lanes through counter-piracy and other measures.

This meeting, which gathers G-7 foreign ministers to Hiroshima for the first time in history, is a fitting place to discuss nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. I myself, as a foreign minister from Hiroshima, have been working hard to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. However, since last year’s Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, the rift between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States has become deeper. Regrettably, the momentum for a world free of nuclear weapons has withered.

North Korea’s nuclear test in January and ballistic missile launches in February and March pose serious threats not only to the region but also to the international community. We need to face up to this harsh reality surrounding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

As a forum which comprises both nuclear and non-nuclear States, the G-7 is well positioned to send a strong message from Hiroshima to revitalize the international momentum and relaunch initiatives for a world free of nuclear weapons. As Chair, I am determined to make the utmost effort to realize this vision.

On April 11, all G-7 foreign ministers will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and lay a wreath at the Memorial Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims. I believe inviting world leaders to witness with their own eyes the reality of atomic bombings is an important milestone in gathering global momentum for a world without nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima offers beautiful nature with surrounding sea and mountains. It also has rich culture and history. It is a symbol of peace and hope, recovered from an atomic bombing. Welcoming the G-7 foreign ministers in Hiroshima, I hope to have candid discussions with them and to deliver a shared message of peace, prosperity and hope for the future. As Chair, I will do my utmost for a successful meeting in Hiroshima that leads to the G-7 Ise-Shima Summit in May.

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